A Bong, also known as a water pipe, in simple terms means a device used for smoking herbs, cannabis, or tobacco. It is based on the principle of filtration. Quite similar to hookah, it is more compact and convenient.
Meaning of the Word Bong
Etymologically speaking, the word ‘Bong” is derived from the Thai word ‘baung’ meaning a cylindrical wooden pipe or tube made from bamboo, used essentially for smoking. There has been a lot of debate regarding the origin of the word. But the most accepted one is the Thai derivation.
History of Bongs
The history can be traced back 2,400 years ago. These Pipes made of gold have been found in Russia. A rudimentary version of water bongs made of ceramics of animal horns has been found in Central Asia and Africa. Chinese emperors have been believed to have started the usage. The modern version of them looks a bit more complicated than the ones used in ancient times.
The Different Components
Below are some of the main components:
- Tube- it is the long cylindrical part of the glass that fills up with smoke. One part of the tube reaches the mouth, and the other is fixed to the base. It is this tube with its various twisted versions that defines a bong. Ice-pinches on the tube stop the ice cubes from falling in the water. The size of the tube starts from 8 inches.
- Base- it comes in various shapes. The most common ones are bubble or beaker bottom. Attached to the tube, the base has some water in it.
- Downstem- it is the long tube attached to the side of the water pipe. At times it is attached to the base as well. The smoke travels from the bowl to the bowl through the downstem.
- Bowl- located on the opposite side of the downstem, it is the fat and round attachment where the herb is stuffed and lit. This part, at times, is detachable.
- Carb- also called a carb hole, is an in-built hole that lets the user clear out the smoke from the chamber.
- Percolator- is a filter where bubbles are created when one pulls smoke from.
By filtering and cooling the smoke coming from burning herbs. Once you burn the herb and start inhaling, bubbles are created at the bottom. The smoke from the burning herb cools down in the water and travels through the chamber before reaching your mouth.
- They can be a bit calming on the throat and the lungs
- The filtered smoke lets you enjoy a smoother puff.
- The flavor and fragrance of the herb can be thoroughly enjoyed.
- It looks aesthetically more appealing.
- Doubles up as a showpiece.
- It has more components and is a bit more complicated than using a joint.
- They can prove to be a tad bit more expensive.
- The cleaning process is an elaborate affair. Every component needs a thorough cleaning.
A wide range of materials are used for making pipes. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
- Glass- Perhaps the most popular material used for making water bongs is glass. They do not tamper with the flavor of the herbs and one can check for resin build-up. Being a transparent material, They can be cleaned easily. Glass water pipes are more expensive, heavy, and cumbersome to carry. They can break easily too.
- Acrylic/Plastic- Almost the same in popularity as glass, acrylic rarely break and last longer. They are cheap and perfect for traveling. The only downside is that acrylic bongs tamper with the flavor of the herbs.
- Ceramic- Made with ceramic are fragile, heavy, and difficult to pass around. So these are reserved for special occasions and not meant for daily use. They are more expensive than acrylic pipes but way cheaper. Available in various shapes, sizes, and colors, ceramic ones can double up as a beautiful showpiece as well.
- Bamboo and Wood- Inexpensive and long-lasting, if they are made with bamboo or wood can last a lifetime if you take proper care. These range from basic designs to intricate ones. The only downside is that they are difficult to clean.
- Metal- Not the best material to make water pipes with because even though metal is cheap, durable, and strong, the user can never spot resin build-up. So, you can never know when it’s time to clean the pipe. They also tamper with the flavor of the herb.
Once we know the best materials to use, let’s now take a look at various designs.
- Carburetor pipes- a pipe with a carb hole somewhere in the middle is a carburetor. Glass pipe users prefer to conceal the hole with their finger and release it to let fresh air rush inside the pipe. This causes a more strong and smoother hit when one draws a puff.
- Straight Tube – a simple design, that has a straight tube, a stem, and a bowl.
- Beaker Bottom – Same as the straight tube, beakers have a conical-shaped base that is more stable.
- Bubble bottom – A sphere-shaped bottom and flat base, these are more stable than straight-tube water pipes but less stable than the beaker bottom.
- Multi-chamber – as the name suggests, these have many chambers that are connected. The smoke gets filtered twice and gives a smoother puff.
- Percolator – can be of any shape, these have a percolator added to its design. The percolator filters the smoke further and provides a smoother puff. Although these are hard to clean.
Cost of A Bong
They can cost anything between $20-$1000. Depending on what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend, there is a wide range to choose from.
This write-up provides enough knowledge regarding bongs. Before buying one do some research. Get a fair idea regarding which one is better suited to your personality, pocket, and purpose. There are tons in the market, in various shops and online stores. They come in varied shapes, sizes, and colors. Choose your pick. There is a water pipe for everyone!